Dec 19, 2015

Globe and Mail – Ian Brown and Alex Crétey Systermans
Jean Vanier’s comfort and joy: ‘What we have to do is find the places of hope’

A very distinguished and internationally respected Canadian, Vanier was the founder of L’Arche, a society that sought to bring people to confront their own weaknesses through service to the intellectually disabled.  Vanier, now 87, was awarded the Templeton prize of $2.3 million for “an exceptional contribution to affirming life’s breadth of spiritual dimensions.”  This article may serve to remind all of us of a dimension of human life that may bring hope to us in the middle of our fears, our disappointments, our tensions, our conflicts and our disasters.  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/jean-vaniers-comfort-and-joy-find-the-places-of-hope/article27842806/

Ryerson University – Will Sloan
From prison to campus, “them” becomes “we” 

What’s the purpose of a university course?  Why, to find your common humanity, of course.  And that’s the result of a new course in humanities which co-mingles twelve students with twelve more just released from prison.  “The course works in such a way that it breaks down prejudices and stereotypes, and students come away feeling like they have recognized their common humanity.”  http://www.ryerson.ca/news/news/General_Public/20151214-from-prison-to-campus-us-becomes-we.html

Toronto Star – Tanya Talaga, Peter Edwards, Jim Rankin, David Bruser
‘Solved’ murder cases do not mean charges result in conviction, says OPP – The OPP considers a case solved if a criminal charge is laid and “someone is brought to justice.”

A study by the Toronto Star has revealed a language usage problem in understanding the stats around murdered and missing women.  The OPP who have recorded 54 women with 85.2% solved and 126 males with a solved rate of 99.2%.  The confusion seems to be that the word ‘solved’ means different things to different parts of the justice system.  To the OPP, it means charges laid, not necessarily successful prosecution and conviction.  http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2015/12/17/solved-murder-cases-do-not-mean-charges-result-in-conviction-says-opp.html

Globe and Mail – Sean Fine
Supreme Court backs judge’s right to impose stiff sentence for drunk driving

The same Supreme Court that opposed many of Stephen Harper’s tough-on-crime laws is saying that a judge, who imposed a 6 ½ year prison sentence on a young man convicted of drunk driving and the death of another young man, was within acceptable as a deterrent.  The case was appealed and reduced to four years by a Quebec Court and then appealed again to the Supreme Court which ruled 5-2 to let the original sentence stand.  http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/supreme-court-backs-judges-right-to-send-tough-message-on-drunk-driving/article27829053/

Prison Reform Trust (UK) –  Dr Sharon Shalev and Kimmett Edgar
DEEP CUSTODY: Segregation Units and Close Supervision Centres in England and Wales

Shalev is at the University of Oxford and offers an in-depth study of the complexity of solitary confinement.  The average inmate who is in solitary suffers, she says, from at least three serious mental illnesses.  “This study set out to: examine how segregation units and CSCs are used; describe the skills and views of staff who work there; and to explore prisoners’ perceptions of fair processes and their treatment. We also wanted to profile good practice.”  The report is in downloadable pdf – 174 pages with an executive summary and recommendations start on p. 153.  http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/Portals/0/Documents/deep_custody_111215.pdf?dm_i=47L,3WNDB,6JSCMH,E3110,1

CBC News On the road – Steve Hartmann
Secret Santa in police uniform

The link is to a three minute news story from CBS news about Secret Santa who uses country police to effect special gifts to unsuspecting drivers, creating a decidedly different perception of police officers in Kansas City, Missouri. https://www.facebook.com/CBSEveningNews/videos/vb.340093714072/10153003404704073/?type=2&theater

Center for American Progress (US) – Sharita Gruberg
How For-Profit Companies Are Driving Immigration Detention Policies 

Here’s an astounding piece of information.  The department of Justice and Bureau of prisons have 200,000 inmates but the Homeland Security which is responsible for 400,000 plus immigration detainees can only house 11% and uses state holding facilities (remand facilities) and private companies by contract (18%).  Homeland now has a total inmate count of over 400,000, up from 7500 in 1995.  Clearly immigration detention is big business since the feds contract for 34,000 beds on a daily basis, whether filled or not.  Detention is costing $2 billion per year. https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/immigration/report/2015/12/18/127769/how-for-profit-companies-are-driving-immigration-detention-policies/

Toronto Star – Olivia Carville, Melissa Renwick, Kelsey Wilson
The Game: Living Hell in hotel chains

Here’s a chilling tale!  A Star investigation into the sex trafficking trade in Toronto, some as young as 12 years of age, taken by pimps and forced to work the “game” or the sex trade, as police and victims call it.  The victims are “beaten, branded, bought and sold in downtown hotels.”  Contrary to popular belief, says reporter Carville, they are Canadians, not foreigners.  http://projects.thestar.com/human-sex-trafficking-ontario-canada/

N.Y. Times – Charles M. Blow
Freddie Gray and the Meaning of Justice

Freddie Gray is the 25-year-old man who died of a spinal cord injury sustained in police custody in Baltimore.  The trial of the first policeman charged with his death has ended in a mistrial declaration by the judge.  The family of Freddie Gray have already received a $6.4 million settlement from the city but Blow thinks that justice is defined by what stake you have in it.  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/18/opinion/freddie-gray-and-the-meaning-of-justice.html?mwrsm=Email&_r=0

Globe and Mail – Canadian Press
Manitoba schools sign historic pact to advance indigenous education

Educational institutions across the province have signed an historic agreement and designed a blueprint to advance Indigenous education.  First Nations advocate Wab Kinew, now working at the University of Winnipeg, says: “Students and elders are comparing it to a treaty signing so the real test will be how well we live up to this treaty signing.”   http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/manitoba-schools-sign-historic-pact-to-advance-indigenous-education/article27882312/

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
2015 likely to break records for forced displacement – study

“GENEVA, Dec 18 (UNHCR) – With almost a million people having crossed the Mediterranean as refugees and migrants so far this year, and conflicts in Syria and elsewhere continuing to generate staggering levels of human suffering, 2015 is likely to exceed all previous records for global forced displacement, the UN Refugee Agency warned in a new report today.”  http://www.unhcr.org/5672c2576.html  Related article: Globe and Mail – Mark MacKinnon   Syrian refugees’ airlift out of Turkey weighed down by spreading chaos    http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/syrian-refugees-airlift-out-of-turkey-weighed-down-by-spreading-chaos/article27867840/